Monday, December 15, 2008
Christmas isn't Christmas without...
For me, a mystery simply isn't a cozy without the traditional ingredients I've come to expect--an amateur sleuth, an inciting crime, a slew of suspects and red-herring clues, and a thrilling unveiling of the villain along with the crime's resolution at the end.
A traditional romance needs a heroine and hero who find themselves attracted to one another and yet struggle against overwhelming odds and obstacles until love finally wins out in the end. A romance simply isn't a romance without a Happily Ever After conclusion.
And Christmas wouldn't seem like Christmas without our family's traditions incorporated into the celebration of the Messiah's advent. When the family starts to gather from the hinderlands on Christmas Eve, each member will come with their own set of traditional expectations. I look forward to the candlelight communion service and arranging the display of my Aunt Ruth's handmade ceramic nativity. Then there's the reading of the Christmas story with all the kiddos gathered 'round.
My kids wouldn't think it's Christmas Eve without the crockpot buffet of BBQ "baby weiners," and corn potato chowder; Sam Dillon's stuffed mushrooms and pumpkin roll, Christmas fudge, eggnog, and my daughter-in-law Jara's annual request of mulled cider.
Then there's the tradition of opening one gift each on Christmas Eve and the rest on Christmas Morn, followed by my kitchen frenzy to cook up everyone's favorite holiday dishes. In addition to the turkey, before declaring the holiday meal a success, my five kids all demand Green Beans Almondine and at least three different potato dishes (the classic mashed, a sweet potato souffle, and that new holiday tradition--(despite much personal protest) cheesy potato casserole. By the time everyone has had their fill of a variety of pies, I declare a personal strike on Gram's kitchen work, and the gang is left to fend for themselves. We are typically eating turkey-and-cranberry-sauce sandwiches until there's nothing left but the turkey carcass.
Another holiday tradition we've established in recent years has been that of the relegated meal-prep days. Since our children fly in from all over the country, they usually come to stay for several days beyond Christmas. One year after the kids departed for their respective homes, I complained to my husband that I'd spent the whole holiday week in the kitchen and barely got to hold my new grandson. Since then, we assign each of our five adult children the responsibility of preparing a post-Christmas meal for the crew. I will do the shopping in advance if they provide me a list, but they take over from there, doing all the meal prep and clean up. The whole family gets to enjoy something a little different as each brother or sister tries to outshine their siblings. And I get to romp and snuggle with those four grandkids of mine!
So what family tradition "makes" Christmas for you? Is it an event? A recipe? Please share. And may Christmas 2008 be a Holy season, filled with a double portion of love and laughter.
Editor Du Jour Susan